Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Edge of the Map

I have travelled to the edge of the map. Past distant Helleconia itself: my sextant swept the stars for clues, until the sky overhead became relentless black.

The Captain looked out, seeing nothing but shining sea. He ordered full sheets at the masts and more coal to the boilers.

            ‘Now we’ll know,’ he coughed into his ‘kerchief adding new red stains.

            ‘Will we?’ 

            The Captain laughed and one brass button fell to the deck, falling between the planks, ‘I believe so;  but will it matter? Whom will we tell?’

            We had left Tyre months before.There were fewer of us now.

            ‘Not one dragon seen,’ I said.

            ‘Folk tales for children,’ he replied.

            The Boatswain appeared at the Fo’csle, breathless; ‘Two more a-swooned, sure to fade soon, Cap’n’

            ‘Have you a watch, man?’ The Captain barely looked at him.

            ‘Aye, Sir.’

            ‘Well, time the disappearing then!’

            The Boatswain scampered toward the bow, and I opened the Ship’s Log at that day’s date.

            ‘How long for the first?’

            ‘If it was the first, a day and a night. We had just crossed the Stygian Gulf, 3 months since, Captain.’

            ‘And these two, how long?’

            ‘The last one was transparent in a quarter-hour.’

One day later we reached the edge of the map. The Captain set course along the edge, expending the last of the coal. One week later, only the Captain and I remained. I could see the wheel behind him and he smiled, ‘And the Navigator is the last? Go home, sir, go home.’

            We got the ship turned about before he himself disappeared. I am less than half-way to Tyre and I can see the writing in the ship’s log through my hand. I know the ship will arrive crew-less with only this paper-and-ink witness to the tale.

1 comment:

Michelle Elvy said...

A great addition to the FLASH MOB. Thanks for this story!